AN ELGIN EXCLUSIVE FEATURE
Inivalappil Mani Vijayan, a former soda seller turned Indian football legend, has set an example for those who aspire to overcome all odds. Known affectionately by his admirers as Vijayettan, Viju Bhai, or Kalo Hiran, the former striker was nominated for the Padma Shri award, India’s fourth-highest civilian honour, in recognition of his outstanding achievements.
Source: New Indian Express
With an electrifying presence on the field, he captivates fans worldwide with his exceptional skills and unyielding passion for the game. A goal-scoring maestro, Vijayan’s legacy as a legendary player and an inspiration to aspiring athletes remains unparalleled in the annals of Indian football history.
Vijayan’s journey in Indian football is nothing short of remarkable. A native of Thrissur, he developed a keen interest in the sport as a young boy, watching games with his father at the Municipal Corporation stadium. His career took off when he was recruited by DGP MK Joseph for the Kerala Police team while still a teenager. In no time, he became a star player during the golden era of football in Kerala.
Vijayan went on to receive the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Player of the Year award three times in his illustrious career, representing some of the top teams in the country, including Mohun Bagan, FC Cochin, JCT, East Bengal, and Churchill Brothers. He also earned the Arjuna Award from the Government of India in 2003 for his outstanding contributions to the sport.
A crowning achievement for a football legend! I M Vijayan’s exceptional contributions to the sport are honored as he receives the prestigious Arjuna Award. A symbol of excellence and sporting prowess, this recognition celebrates his skill, dedication, and profound impact on Indian football, solidifying his status as an icon of the game.
What sets Vijayan apart from others is his consistency on the field, earning him a spot on the national team, where he delivered time and time again. Indian football enthusiasts will recount the goal he scored against Bhutan in the 1999 SAF Games in just 12 seconds, one of the fastest goals ever recorded in football.
Source- Fisto Sports Twitter
Vijayan was part of the victorious Indian team in the 1999 South Asian Football Federation Cup and scored one of the fastest international goals in history of sport during the tournament, hitting the net against Bhutan after only 11 seconds.
Even after retirement, Vijayan continues to make valuable contributions to the sport. He was appointed as the National Observer for football by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and still amazes spectators with his football skills during Sevens matches in Kerala. His passion for the sport remains unwavering, and he even ventured into acting, most recently appearing as a villain in the football-themed blockbuster Bigil, starring Vijay.
The nomination for the Padma Shri award is a fitting tribute to the living legend that is IM Vijayan, whose story will inspire generations to come.
A unique crossover that showcases his versatility! I M Vijayan, the football legend, steps onto the silver screen in the Malayalam movie “Mattancherry”. With his magnetic screen presence and natural acting prowess, Vijayan delivers a memorable performance, seamlessly transitioning from the football pitch to the realm of cinema.
I M Vijayan has attended many practice sessions all over India and the world with his team mates. One such practice session was being held at Kalimpong, West Bengal.
Kalimpong, a bustling bazaar town nestled in the rolling foothills of the Himalayas, has become a popular tourist destination for its temperate climate and proximity to other exciting locations in the region.
One fascinating fact about Kalimpong is that it is home to a wide variety of orchids. Known as the “Orchid Paradise,” the region boasts more than 400 species of orchids, including rare and exotic varieties. Kalimpong’s favorable climate and diverse flora make it a haven for orchid enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
The town has everything you need for a perfect getaway – scenic views, charming streets, and delightful food. You can start your day with a hearty breakfast of momos and thukpa, explore the local markets, and then head to the nearby Buddhist monasteries for some peace and serenity. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can go for a trek in the surrounding hills or try your hand at paragliding. Kalimpong is a haven for nature lovers, adventure seekers, and foodies alike, and promises to leave you with memories to last a lifetime!